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Published: June 25th 2017
Geo: 37.1694, -104.5
We had a plan for today, and we pretty much completed it with little variation. The main event was Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado. We left the hotel at 8 AM and 50 degrees (which got as high as 88 before the day was over) and under mostly cloudy skies, and set out toward the east. The drive took us through rolling hills of green pastures with grazing cows and horses (still trying to figure out why they never intermingle the two) and over roads cut thru walls of stone, a bright pink and orange, forming interesting angular faces staring back at us as we passed.
Suddenly we found ourselves riding a canyon rim, looking down into a deep gorge, and fishing our way around mountain walls with falling rock and fir trees growing out of them. And there were lots of trees. Round and round we went through ski resort country on narrow roads with no guard rails and sand pits designed to stop runaway semi's on the steep downhill slants. And just as suddenly, we found ourselves out of the mountains and back into meadows of green grass sandwiched between two mountain ranges. I always
get a kick out of the prairie fences…wire held in place by posts of anything and everything that will stand. Today they were all tree branches…crooked ones and straight ones, tall ones and short ones, thick ones and thin ones, all coming together to perform the same task in perfect harmony.
After 2 ½ hours and a few blips from the lady in the box, we arrived at the park and it was not quite as we had expected. As we approached we stopped to take photos of this massive sand dune adorning a mountain which stood tall behind it, and I thought, that is what we will see a lot of today. And I imagined that it would be petrified sand dunes, like the ones we saw in Utah last summer. Well, all of my assumptions were false. After entering the park, we discovered that what we saw on the road was it. It was THE sand dune. This park needs to change its name from Great Sand Dunes to The Great Sand Dune. For there is only one. The park road is only about a mile long before it becomes the entry to the camping areas and ends
there. We backtracked to the sign that pointed to a picnic area and discovered that this was THE place to be. There are three paths to the dune. You must cross a mud field, which is probably a shallow river during other months of the year, to reach the dune where you can play in the soft sand or climb it…a very tall climb through beach-soft sand. And there were people all the way up on top. And some of them had brought boards that were used to reward their hard trek with a slide down the side to the bottom. Others brought pails of toys for just playing in the sand and I presume building sand castles or some such activity. This turned out to be more of a recreation area than it did a typical national park. But here we were, and I was unwilling to walk through mud to touch the sand that was available in abundance on the parking lot side. There was no way we were climbing that small mountain in the heat of the mid-day sun.
We had lunch before leaving the park and heading to Trinidad, CO, our nest for the night. A park
ranger suggested to us that we might drive the Highway of Legends which we did. It is a very scenic ride that took us to places the GPS had never heard of and landed us right in front of our hotel. Tomorrow, we head for Wichita Falls.
A note: We are on the final lap of our odyssey and Poinciana is looking pretty appealing to the senses right about now. I am slowly losing my enthusiasm and looking forward to sleeping in my own bed for a change. Just a few more days.
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